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Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC) Advocates for Sustainable Agriculture and Affordability in Parliament Hill Meetings

Following the spirited celebrations of Canada’s Agriculture Day earlier this week, the Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC) continued the momentum into a day of impactful advocacy on Parliament Hill on Thursday, February 15th. Engaging in meetings with 40 Members of Parliament, Senators, and key government officials, including a significant session with the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture, FVGC underscored the vital role of Canadian farmers in sustaining the nation’s food system and economy.

This year’s advocacy day, set against the vibrant backdrop of Canada’s Agriculture Day, served as a poignant reminder of the significant contributions and the stark challenges faced by Canadian growers. A 2022 survey conducted by FVGC revealed alarming figures: 44% of growers are operating at a loss, and 77% are unable to offset the increasing production costs, underscoring the financial strains from policies such as the Carbon Tax. “Being a grower, I know what we’re up against. Our conversations on the Hill weren’t just policy debates; they were about sharing the true story of farmers like us and the vital job we do in providing food for Canadians and the world,” expressed Jan VanderHout, President of FVGC and an Ontario-based cucumber grower.

In response to rising food costs and living expenses, FVGC’s advocacy emphasized crucial reforms: the swift passage of Bill C-234, in its original form, for carbon pricing exemptions to lower production costs, supporting Bill C-280 for financial protection of produce growers and sellers, promoting investment in greenhouse agriculture, and advocating for a $8 million budget increase for the Pest Management Centre (PMC) along with a permanent increase in the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s (PMRA) A-base funding to enable  timely science-based assessments. These measures aim to sustain the sector’s competitiveness and ensure affordable, sustainable food production in Canada.

“Effective crop protection is at the heart of sustainable agriculture. By advocating for increased funding of both PMC and PMRA, we’re aiming to secure a future where Canadian growers can continue to produce food both affordably and sustainably with continued access to crop protection tools,” emphasized Jason Smith, Chair of the FVGC Crop Protection Advisory Group, and a British Columbia blueberry grower.

“Rather than encouraging greener operations, the carbon tax imposes a heavy financial burden that stifles innovation and hampers our global competitiveness,” stated Linda Delli Santi, Chair of the FVGC Greenhouse Vegetable Working Group, who was a greenhouse tomato and pepper grower in British Columbia for thirty years. “With food costs being a top concern for all Canadians, it’s imperative that greenhouse growers, who are pioneers with a strong record of environmental stewardship already heavily invested in sustainable practices, see incentives and policy-driven support.”

The Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada extends its gratitude to all the Parliamentarians, Senators, and government officials who engaged in meaningful dialogue during the advocacy day. FVGC is confident that these dialogues will catalyze decisive policy and funding actions to bolster the agricultural sector’s growth and its vital role in enhancing Canada’s economy and food security.

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